Monday, March 16, 2015

Living with soy and dairy allergy

I've met a lot of women who are starting a journey I never wanted to take, one of living with kids with allergies. So, I thought I'd write down my insights in one place to refer to them later, so I don't have to type them out multiple times.
The eczema that covered his body from his diaper area up to his head about 2 months old here

My son was never officially diagnosed. When he was just 4 or 5 days old, I noticed he was different than his sister. His poops were green and watery. He would wake himself up in the middle of the night crying and grunting and pulling his legs up to his stomach. He seemed to be in a lot of pain, and I didn't think it was normal. The pediatrician wasn't concerned at all. He was gaining weight just fine. But then he developed a rash all over his body. He had terrible cradle cap, too.

I voiced my concerns to my doctor, and she rolled her eyes at me. Then she told me I should try eating yogurt because the cultures in it may help heal his gut. (never mind the fact I had just told her I thought that he was allergic to dairy!)
terrible cradle cap

In my research, it seemed that dairy and soy were the most common things for babies to be allergic too. So, I took them out of my diet. I wasn't very strict though. I would have goats milk. I would eat Snickers candy bars (give me a break, it was just after Halloween!) I have a food diary I kept, and one day my husband went and got me a soy chocolate latte from Starbucks. Titus had a terrible day, and I kept thinking that the chocolate sauce in the latte must have contained milk, never even thinking that the soy was actually the cause of all these issues we were having. I ate lots of little bits of soy lechtin because I had read that it shouldn't be bad because it was processed.
"raccoon eyes" face rash - symptom of allergies

As you can see from these pictures, his allergies weren't getting any better. So, I finally got strict with myself. He was sleeping terribly and seemed fairly happy, but his body was looking terrible. Rashes, dry skin, red eyes, etc. I stopped eating eggs, gluten, oats, dairy & soy. I only ate what I cooked. If we went somewhere, I would ask question after question about the food. I learned my lesson after eating something that had been cooked using Pam Spray.

Slowly, I added things back into my diet. Eggs, gluten & oats were all ok. After looking back on the first few months of his life, I think all his problems were originally caused by dairy & soy, but because I wasn't strict enough with my diet, he was having reactions to the dairy and soy but I thought that the trace amounts I was eating wouldn't hurt him.
Around 4 months - something obviously caused this reaction around his lips
Dairy stays in the digestive system for a long time. It can stay for 2-3 weeks, and so if you're nursing you'll need to wait a full month to see all the benefits of removing it from your diet (2 weeks in your body, then another 2 weeks to clear out of baby's body). That being said, you should see some sort of improvement within a couple of days. From my personal experience, soy seems to have a shorter reaction time. It seems fairly immediate, strong and quick. It seems to be more of a 1-2 day sort of thing.

His current reaction is lack of sleep. For example, if he eats something with soy in it at dinner time, he will wake up 9-10 times at night. He has trouble settling down, he wakes up crying. He will nurse and fall back asleep, but then will be up an hour later. Or he may be wide awake from 10pm-2am before finally falling back to a fitful sleep. In the morning, he will seem happy enough, and he will even take a decent nap (probably tired from lack of sleep the night before!). The next night he will wake up 4-5 times, doing the same thing. For the next 4-5 days, his diapers will be mucousy. Sometimes he gets a diaper rash. 

He has had trace amounts of milk (for example, taking a sip of his sister's milk cup) and not had much of a reaction at all. I wonder if he is outgrowing his dairy allergy, but I don't have the energy for trying it - bracing myself for 2-3 weeks of bad sleep. It just doesn't seem worth it to me. 



What to do if you suspect an allergy


- Talk to your doctor! Hopefully they are more helpful than mine was. 
- If you want to use formula, you will need one free from soy and dairy proteins. (although some kids can handle some small amounts of soy or dairy proteins). The fully free-from formulas are big bucks - around $500-$600/month. 
- So, breastfeeding is the cheapest (and healthiest for everyone!)

To eat Dairy and Soy free, you need to avoid: 

- soybean oil (this is the most processed of all soy products. Most children are okay with consuming this. There should be no proteins left in the oil after its been processed). This is also known as Vegetable Oil. Titus is very sensitive, but is okay with this. 
- soy lecithin (Titus reacts to this). This is the protein found in almost all processed foods. Sauces, dressings, spices, seasonings, PAM spray, breads, cereals, Oreos, canned tuna, etc. Not all kiddos react to this. Once you have a good baseline for your child, you can try this to see if there is a reaction. 
- bean sprouts - most often these are soybean sprouts. Unless you grew them yourself (from alfalfa or something else), its not worth it!
- soy sauce, edemame 
- hydrolized plant/vegetable/soy protein (another word for soy)
- miso, teryaki sauce - from soy
- Caramel coloring - can be made from dairy
- sausages - look carefully! Many have soy proteins in them
- MSG - can be made from soy
- wine - some can have dairy proteins in them. They are used to filter the wine. You can visit the website www.barnivore.com and they list vegan wines 
- PAM spray - just going to list this again since its so widely used. Soy lecithin is an ingredient
- butters and margarine (even many buttery spreads contain dairy & soy proteins)
Ghee (a dairy product, not supposed to have many dairy protein, but can cause a reaction)
Breads - look at labels carefully. At most grocery stores there is only one or two brands or types of bread that is safe to eat. 


What Can You Eat? 


Right now, I cook mostly normal foods, just using my dairy/soy free substitutes. The good news is that most of these foods are sold at my normal grocery store! You can also find all or most of them at Sprouts or Whole Foods. 

Butter: Earth's Balance (click for their website, use to find stores). They make a butter spread and butter sticks that you can use in place of butter. This is easily substituted in any recipe for butter. One of the kids is made without soybean oil, but my child can handle the regular yellow tub that is made with soybean oil. The red tub is completely soy free. 

Bread: Eureka Baking Company makes their breads soy/dairy free, as does Rudi's. Even when buying these brands, look at the labels as I'm not sure all their types of breads are dairy and soy free. 

Milk: We have tried lots of types of milk. Rice milk has less flavor. Almond milk and Coconut milk are stronger, but creamier. There are milks you can buy that are boxed and on shelves (non-refrigerated) and some that are refrigerated and have shorter life spans. Try to get ones with added calcium since you won't be getting as much calcium in your diet. When I do baking, I try to use a plain, rice milk (unsweetened, no vanilla). It has little flavor, so won't add extra flavors to whatever you're baking or cooking. 

Chocolate: Guittard Chocolate chips. They are made from Sunflower lecithin! (But again, check the packages - I have accidentally bought some from Guittard that still had soy lecithin. So, depends on which type you buy!) 

Cheese Daiya Cheese - There is a vegan cheese made out of tapioca starch I believe. I don't really like it that much, but have heard its good on pizza and grilled cheese. 

Coffee Creamer/Ice cream - all made from coconut milk. There is a company called So Delicious that makes these. I really enjoy the French Vanilla Coffee Creamer. Their ice cream is pretty good, as well. 

Trader Joe's does a good job with allergens, too. You can request a print out list of everything in their store that is allergy friendly. They also have some different types of cookies and snacks that are free from the top 8 allergens. When I first started this journey, I ate their Snickerdoodle Cookies a lot because they were one of the only things I could find that was dairy and soy free. (For the record, its much cheaper to buy those cookies in the store, rather than through Amazon).

No comments: